Art in Downtown Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Central Library has one of the few bits of green space in downtown LA, the Maguire Gardens. The library was “built by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in a style that mixed Byzantine, Egyptian, modern, and Spanish themes, and opened in 1926. Most of the terra-cotta bas-reliefs were done by Lee Oskar Lawrie, and entitled “Meaning and Purpose of Library”. In 1986 two fires destroyed a large portion of the Library, making the building unusable, and destroying more than 400,000 books. Through a Save the Books campaign, launched by Mayor Tom Bradley and ARCO’s Lodwrick M. Cook, over $10 million was raised to refurbish the building and purchase library materials. Many of the original decorations of the Goodhue building, such as murals were preserved, and a new wing, designed by Norman Pfeiffer of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer and named after Tom Bradley, was added to the building and opened in 1993. Jud Fine designed the sculptural program, called Spine, for the Maguire Gardens (named after Maguire-Thomas Partners, heavy investors into the real estate surrounding the Library), which conceptually links the archaic past to the post-literate present across a multi-cultural landscape: (http://www.publicartinla.com/LAPL/). Read more about the Library and its art here.

Here are some of the photos I took of the Gardens and sculpture.

The Downtown LA Art Walk, held in the historic downtown core the second Thursday of every month, is fabulous, with over 49 Gallery venues and numerous street vendors and musicians – here’s a sample of what’s on offer:

Below is a picture of one of the cavernous venues, this one in the lobby of the Rosslyn Lofts, a former hotel now being converted into micro lofts – this is video work presented by the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art as part of the Digital Art. LA exhibition.

Just down the block from the Rosslyn Lofts is the LA Art Park, a venue for outsider artists and other craftspeople to show and sell their wares.

Skulls, hearts, graffiti and recycled junk are the order of the day here. The work below belongs to a man in a wheelchair who told us that he’s sixty years old and paints every single day – most of his material comes from the neighborhood dumpsters.

Below is work from the exhibition in a gallery dedicated strictly to graffiti artists.

A female artist from Romanian is exhibiting her art documenting the terrors and follies of the Caucescu regime in Romania, her former homeland.

Many mannequins were also on display, this one hanging by chains in a venue on 6th Street.

My work is being shown at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art on 5th Street – here are a few shots from the opening:

Crowds thronged the streets between Spring and Main and 3rd and 9th. The Alexandria was a particularly busy venue; its lobby and mezzanine are beautifully decorated with relief sculpture, curlicues, and chandeliers.

This place, below, was a tiny venue on Spring Street, with a 70s black light thing happening and a DJ spinning hip-hip and nuevo-disco attracting a crowd out front.

There are some really fine examples, like this one, of early 20th century architecture in the historic core.

See more pictures of the LA trip here.

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